Meet the bee­tles

Pasatiempo - - Moving Images - Robert B. Ker For The New Mex­i­can

IBee­tle Queen Con­quers Tokyo, doc­u­men­tary, not rated, in English and Ja­panese with sub­ti­tles, The Screen, 3.5 chiles Ap­par­ently, in­sects don’t bug the Ja­panese all that much. Beetle Queen Con­quers Tokyo is not the tasty B-movie that the ti­tle sug­gests — Mothra is nowhere to be found — but rather a doc­u­men­tary about the coun­try’s fas­ci­na­tion with its in­sects. The film opens with a pro­fes­sional hornet hunter search­ing for spec­i­mens in a dark for­est and quickly moves to the phe­nom­e­non of keep­ing large bee­tles as pets be­fore touch­ing on ev­ery as­pect of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Ja­panese peo­ple and their in­sects. We see chil­dren play­ing an in­sect-catch­ing video game and a col­lec­tor care­fully stretch­ing and pin­ning the wings of a dead moth. We spend time at a tourist des­ti­na­tion where peo­ple come to see fire­flies. In­cred­i­bly, Mothra might be the only Ja­panese-in­sect con­nec­tion that isn’t turned over.

At one point, di­rec­tor Jes­sica Oreck (whose en­vi­able day job is as an an­i­mal keeper at the Amer­i­can Mu­seum of Nat­u­ral His­tory in New York City) ex­am­ines Zen med­i­ta­tion gar­dens — those fixed spa­ces where a few scat­tered rocks loom over a patch of care­fully swept sand. The in­tent of these gar­dens, Oreck sug­gests, is sim­i­lar to that of haiku: to re­duce the whole of the uni­verse into a man­age­able space, in or­der to best con­tem­plate it. She ap­pears to have sim­i­lar goals with Beetle Queen: to study gen­eral sub­jects such as Ja­pan’s cul­ture, his­tory, and iden­tity by closely ex­am­in­ing the spe­cific topic of its in­fat­u­a­tion with in­sects and, by ex­ten­sion, its ap­pre­ci­a­tion for min­i­mal­ism, sim­plic­ity, and tran­sience.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.